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21 of 52  Trip Around The Sun - St. Mary’s Church (Catholic)


Sunday, September 22, 2002


Have traveled about 237,500,000 miles.


Thoughts during the week:


My son, David informs me that the talk on pride was not by President Kimball, but by Ezra Taft Benson. – Woops. I think he was glad to catch his dad in an error just now, as he was a little jealous of the other boy, Billy, and the football game. All the boys were Charger fans. (A day with dad has some value too.)


The visit:


St. Mary’s Church (Catholic) just one block west of Juniper on 13th.


This large chapel was completely filled with what appeared to be a perfect melting pot. I expected mostly Mexican Americans and Mexican Nationals, but it was hard to pick any majority at all with a real shuffling of races and nationalities.


Another unusual thing (as it has come to appear on these visits) is that all ages were there – families with even little babies and all the rest. This was a cross-section of all ages, just as we have come to know in our own church.


The Catholic Mass was just as always. The Priest says words, the congregation says words – back and forth through a program. Strong evidence of the importance of keeping the metaphor occurred over and over. “This is my body and my blood.” There was strong emphasis on the word “is.” Later, “We pray these to become the Eucharist.” Still later, he said, while two held up the cup and plate, “We hold the body and blood of Christ.” Catholics, of course, believe that there is a miraculous changing of these emblems into the actual body and blood of the Savior. As soon as anyone says these are metaphors – making it all symbolic   they are ready to argue that “There are things we do not understand.” As Mormons, we start right out with the simile, leaving the metaphor – and its predictably being taken as literal – alone. We say, “In remembrance of his body and his blood – ,“ not together – but in separate prayers.”


We reverse positions with the Catholics on another issue. We say that God has a body of flesh and bones, just as we have. A Catholic might tell us that, “Surely, you must recognize that this is a metaphor – to view God as a Father figure.” And we might reply, “No – there are things people do not know – that have been revealed in these latter days. He is our literal Father.” They do not understand ours – We do not understand theirs. That has to be interesting.


I asked someone if non-members take the Eucharist. The man told me that I could go up “for a blessing,” but not partake of the Eucharist. They went up row by row – nearly all.


Their building is much used. There are five fillings on Sunday, 7:30, 9:00, 10:30, 12:15, 5:30. Two fillings Monday thru Friday, and three Saturday.


I had noticed not so many Mexican families as I expected – Now I know why. The 12:15 meeting is in Spanish.


This was a busy and efficient congregation. Very little greeting. No one learned my name. After the meeting, they efficiently went to the parking lot – no 15 minute social, as I’ve come to expect. I think they must empty the lot for the next wave.


There were interesting messages within the prayers the Priest led – that were not rote and in the book.


He said, “For all those who suffer and are in need, let us pray to the Lord.”

Then the congregation said, “The Lord hear our prayer.”


For those who - - - - same response.


For those who - - - - same response.


But then he said,


“For all those who work for fair labor practices and for those who work in the unions, let us pray to the Lord.” And the congregation: “The Lord hear our prayer.” Wo – this was new.


This is a prayer I have never heard among Mormons. I have often heard the admonition to give a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, but never the other way round – where the advice is to the employer.

Perhaps good advice would be, “For all you Saints who own or manage companies, when the profits go up, do the workers benefit? We must know that all of them, right down to those who clean the floors, contributed to the profitability.”


I bought a copy of the new Catechism that came out perhaps 10 years ago. I read all of it, marked it up, and I remember a few things that impressed me as significantly different from us.


Each paragraph is called a catechism. Paragraph or Catechism 2408 says, in reference to the commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,”:


“There is no theft if the taker has been refused contrary to the universal destination of goods.”


Explanatory material then explains that if a hungry man is refused, it is not he who breaks the commandment when he takes bread, but the one who refused what already belonged to the hungry man by this principle of the universal destination of goods. It is we who steal if we are wealthy and allow others to starve.


I cannot argue that the Catholics are exactly correct in this, but it is obvious they have a different attitude from ours toward the poor. I know we, as a church, recognized the honest and fruitful way the Catholic Church distributed goods when we participated by giving our own donations and money to the Catholics for distribution some years ago for a tragedy far away. Our leaders were convinced that the larger and more experienced Catholic organization could do this job better than we. That act by the leaders of the Church was a real heart-warmer for me.


The atmosphere of a meeting – the way it’s handled, etc., make strong habits. The differences between our meeting style and theirs are so many and so basic that I doubt if I would be fed for very long going to mass. I like our “variety” of speakers – and even the “variety of levels of preparedness.” We get to grow as an entire congregation in ways rare in the world. I’m glad our kids grew up among the Mormons.


But we would be remiss if we did not recognize that the Catholics serve about 100 people for each one we serve. It’s easy to find error and even evil in such a large organization. It’s like finding a felon in America – easy to do, but it doesn’t make America bad. And if we find others who hide the deeds of that felon, lawyers – perhaps even judges – or friends and relatives – still – that does not make America bad. Error is error – sin is sin – and they are all personal – whether there is one or a hundred participating.


21 of 52  Trip Around The Sun - St. Mary’s Church (Catholic)


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